Stop tax changes at Autumn Statements, says pensions minister Steve Webb

CHANCELLORS should stop introducing tax changes in Autumn Statements in order to ensure a simpler, more effective tax code, according UK pensions minister Steve Webb (pictured).

Speaking at a launch event for ICAS’s general election manifesto, the Liberal Democrat MP said the Autumn Statement has effectively become a “second Budget” which leads to instability and complexity in the tax code.

“I think we need less change,” he said. “The Autumn Statement currently happens in December, which means you get tax two sets of tax changes happening within 13 weeks between that and the Budget, with one Finance Bill. I think limiting tax change to the Budget is sensible.”

Tax simplification is a key plank of the general election manifesto put forward by the Scottish institute, which it argues should be “at the core of any future government’s fiscal policy”.

Chief executive Anton Colella underlined the need to reduce the size of the UK’s tax code, which now stands at more than 20,000 pages and ten million words.

He sang the praises of the work undertaken by the Office of Tax Simplification, which was introduced by the government in 2010, and called for the body to continue into the next parliament with greater resources.

“Every political party is talking about tax avoidance, but one important element that lies in their hands is simplifying Britain’s Tax Code,” he said. “The next government must stop tinkering by adding yet more reliefs and start tackling the complexity of it all.

“All governments talk about simplifying taxes. The problem is that none have tackled the issue head on. We believe the next government must put action ahead of words in the public interest.”

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